Neosho native named partner in prestigious firm

John Ford

A Neosho native has been named the newest partner in what may be the area’s oldest law firm.

David Sims, a graduate of Neosho High School, Tulane University, and the University of Missouri at Columbia, has been named a partner in what is now the Sims, Johnson, Wood and Sims Law Firm, located on the east side of the Neosho Square. Other partners in the firm include Sims’ uncle, John Sims, Hank Johnson and Andy Wood. Sims has been with the firm since 2002.

“I’m pretty happy about it,” Sims said of being named a partner. “I’ve put in some hard work and it’s paid off.

“I enjoy working here, enjoy working with the people here, enjoy working in Neosho and working with the people I grew up with.”

Sims got his undergraduate degree at Tulane University in New Orleans, majoring in finance, before pursing his juris doctorate at the University of Missouri-Columbia law school. His practice includes civil litigation, Chapter 7 bankruptcies, domestic relations such as divorce and child custody cases, estate planning such as wills and trusts, and criminal defense.

“I don’t have one single speciality,” Sims said. “I do a variety of things. It keeps it interesting, I suppose.

“I really like being able to help people in a variety of different areas. If a client comes in, most of the time I can help them, because I have a broad practice area.”

The firm serves Newton, McDonald, and Jasper counties predominately, with some cases in nearby Barton and Barry counties.

Asked if he had any memorable cases, Sims answered yes, adding “Frequently, the memorable ones are not memorable in a good way,” he said. “Just helping friends of mine get through difficult situations is memorable.”

Being a partner in the firm is different than being an associate.

“Before, I was more or less what people think of as an employee,” Sims said. “Now, more or less, I’m kind of an owner. I have a role in the decision making process of the firm. One thing I like about working in Neosho in a smaller firm is I do have the flexibility to take on the cases I want to take, and turn away the ones I don’t think will be prosperous, or successful.”

“A partner shares in the income of the firm, and shares in the losses,” said John Sims, a long-time partner in the firm. “I’m glad to have him here. He’s doing a good job.”

Sims, Johnson, Wood and Sims is likely the oldest law firm in the area, as it was started shortly after the Civil War by M.E. Benton, a U.S. Congressman and father of renowned artist Thomas Hart Benton, and Horace Ruark. The firm has been in several locations, under several different names, since then.

“It is the largest and oldest law firm in the judicial circuit,” said David Sims.

Sims, the son of Bill and Mary Ellen Sims, said he enjoys spending time at the lake with his wife, Christi, and flying airplanes, which he rents from local airports. His favorite plane to fly is the Cessna 172, a single propeller, four seat craft. He said he got interested in flying through his father and grandfather, Dr. George Blankenship, both private pilots.

“Between undergraduate school in New Orleans and graduate school in Columbia, I had a little bit of time, so I took flying lessons and got certified,” he said.

Being an alum, Sims is also a big MU fan, and is planning a trip to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

 “I’m a little disappointed that I’m not making plans for the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., or to New Orleans for the national championship,” he said.

While an undergraduate, Sims decided to pursue a graduate degree and chose law based on its versatility.

“When I was in law school, I decided I wanted to be back home with my friends and family and to be a small town lawyer,” he said. “I don’t have any plans for ever leaving Neosho.”

Sims serves as the city attorney for both Lanagan and Anderson, and serves as prosecutor of their city courts as part of his duties.

The new partner said people are sometimes hesitant about contacting an attorney for various reasons, such as nervousness or worries about expense. He said he doesn’t charge anything for an initial consultation.

“I encourage people, if they think they need an attorney, to go ahead and speak with one,” he said. “Everybody who comes into my office for the first time, don’t owe me a thing. If they want to file a suit or whatever, it doesn’t cost them anything to come in and talk.”

Neosho Daily News